Four plead guilty in Scotia firebombings
SCHENECTADY Four men accused earlier this year of making Molotov cocktails in 2010 and hurling them at various targets in Scotia, including at least one occupied home, have all now pleaded guilty to related crimes.
The four pleaded guilty Monday and Tuesday in Schenectady County Court, with the two deemed most culpable by authorities accepting prison terms.
Each of the pleas reflected a closer look at the involvement of each of the four, authorities said. Each suspect was arrested in March on top-level arson counts that could have sent them to prison for as much as 25 years to life.
On Tuesday, Alexander Grandstaff, 20, pleaded guilty to second-degree arson, while Joseph Parkhurst pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted arson.
Grandstaff, who also pleaded guilty to an unrelated high-level sex crime count, is to receive 11 years in prison at his July sentencing. Parkhurst is to get five years, a sentence reflecting his efforts to straighten out his life since the 2010 events, prosecutor John Healy said. Healy described Grandstaff and Parkhurst as spearheading the acts, with Grandstaff making the Molotov cocktails.
Investigators believe it was in Grandstaff‘s car that the four, then ages 17 and 18, drove around the village in June 2010, hurling the firebombs at places and individuals they targeted.
The two others arrested in March, Shawn Dedrick, 20, and Gregory Mitchell, 21, both of Scotia, pleaded guilty Monday to felony weapons charges. They admitted to possessing the devices.
Healy also noted Dedrick and Mitchell had no interaction with law enforcement in the nearly three years between the incidents and their arrests in March.
All four had been accused of throwing the firebombs at homes and a car in Scotia in 2010. Among the targets, authorities said, was Scotia’s then-police chief. The group allegedly was trying to exact revenge for what they perceived as police harassment.
They were accused of smashing a second-floor window of a house where then-acting Police Chief Tom Rush lived with his wife and young daughter on June 3, 2010. By chance, the lit, gasoline-soaked wick that was jammed into a glass bottle filled of fuel fell out after it was flung at the residence, preventing the device from igniting, authorities said.
Also Tuesday, Grandstaff pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree criminal sexual act, a high-level felony, admitting to having sexual contact in December with a child. Present for the plea was the child’s mother. For that offense, Grandstaff is to receive 11 years in prison, to be served at the same time as his arson sentence.
Tracey Brunecz, the prosecutor in that case, said the resolution was a good one in that it saves the victim from having to testify
Grandstaff had originally been charged in that case with predatory sexual assault against a child, a count that carried a possible sentence of as much as 25 years to life in prison.
Accepting the pleas Tuesday was Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago.